The Dark Crystal Ball of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

“When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then either.”

- Advertisement -

There’s no way to quantify just how scary it is to watch Elisabeth Moss in “The Handmaid’s Tale” – white bonnet, red cape and all – tell the story of the collapse of Western Civilization in muted voiceover. Hearing her talk about the days leading up to the end doesn’t feel like fiction. It feels like a summary of current events. It’s only a truly brilliant horror movie that can blur the lines between fiction and reality so effectively that a viewer becomes afraid to shut off the television for fear they’ll be shutting off life itself. And “The Handmaid’s Tale” is brilliant horror.

What’s impossibly, deeply chilling about Hulu’s new adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel is that you can be sure almost everyone who sees it will find it scary in the exact same way, for the exact same reasons. Atwood’s tale of a dystopian, anti-feminist future is, at heart, a story of the deep helplessness of good in the face of evil. To call it ‘prescient’ or ‘timely’ is an understatement. It’s paralyzing in the same numbing way of watching the doomsday clock tick closer to midnight.

To be fair, this probably wasn’t the showrunner’s intention. Bruce Miller’s adaptation the famously unfilmable book was underway long before a certain unexpected presidential hopeful announced his candidacy. Certainly, Trump’s election helped with marketing for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but the prestige Hulu show didn’t exactly need help. As a streaming service, Hulu had been taking its time to produce an independent series that could match the output of its competitors in bravery, polish, and queer political relevance. Netflix had “Orange is the New Black” four years ago. Amazon had “Transparent.” Hulu knew they had to step up their game to compete in a world of increasingly feminist-oriented social justice stories. They also knew their own version had to be just as addictive.

And so it is. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” partly due to the sheer horror of its premise, partly because of the way it is cast, shot, cut, and sound-mixed, is impossible to turn off. Opting to release the first three episodes on the launch date instead of all (like Netflix) or one (like HBO), Hulu sucker-punched its audience into sitting through nearly three hours of pain, hopelessness, and a world breaking under the weight of fear.

Without drawing pointed conclusions or current-day parallels (they’ve sped up the timeline from Atwood’s novel so as to reference Tinder, Uber, and a host of other Internet-age delights) “The Handmaid’s Tale” uses Elisabeth Moss’s Offred (formerly June) to show us how a culture allows itself to revert to a violent, puritanical standard. When Moss is trapped and caught, separated from her husband and child and forced to be a “handmaiden” whose sole function is to bear children for the new high-ups in society, she’s put through a rigorous training, along with her fellow handmaids, told about how being gay is sinful (“gender-traitors,”) and how showing strength or independence as a woman is not allowed. Though Offred (all the female names are changed to reflect the fact that they are now a man’s property) tries to keep up appearances on the outside, we’re invited into her head to hear about the slow, desperate rebellion she and a few others are cooking up. Small things give her hope – like the fact that her “walking partner” Alexis Bledel is a lesbian rebel, and her “commander” (Joseph Fiennes) likes to play Scrabble.

It’s a thoroughly bizarre world that “The Handmaid’s Tale” inhabits, one that’s painful to observe – almost too painful to keep watching. But we do keep watching, just in case we see a glimpse of hope for own future reflected in the end.



  1. I blog frequently and I really appreciate your
    content. Your article has really peaked my interest.
    I will take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once
    per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  2. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am
    encountering problems with your RSS. I don’t know why I can’t subscribe to it.

    Is there anyone else getting the same RSS issues?
    Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond?

  3. I’m not sure why but this web site is loading extremely slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end?

    I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  4. Hello very nice blog!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing
    .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally?
    I am satisfied to find a lot of helpful info here in the submit,
    we want work out extra techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing.
    . . . . .

  5. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to
    say that I have truly loved surfing around your blog
    posts. After all I will be subscribing in your feed and
    I hope you write once more very soon!

  6. I’m not sure exactly why but this blog is loading
    incredibly slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem
    or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still

  7. I am extremely impressed with your writing abilities as
    neatly as with the format in your blog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you customize it your self?
    Anyway stay up the nice high quality writing, it is
    uncommon to peer a great blog like this one nowadays..

  8. I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering problems with your site.

    It appears as though some of the written text in your content are running
    off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them as well?

    This may be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before.


  9. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get got an impatience over that you wish be
    delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case
    you shield this increase.

  10. Hi! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My web site looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this issue.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. With thanks!

  11. I simply wanted to say thanks once again. I do not know what I could possibly have carried out without these methods documented by you over this industry. It seemed to be an absolute hard matter in my view, nevertheless being able to see the skilled way you managed that made me to jump with fulfillment. I will be happy for this support and expect you comprehend what a great job you’re undertaking teaching many people thru your blog post. I know that you haven’t come across all of us.

  12. I am interested to learn just what site platform you’re utilizing? I’m having a few minor protection problems with our most recent website about forex trading bot so I’d like to find one thing much more risk-free. Have you got any alternatives?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here